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How to Be a Role Model for Girls

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Together we can raise a generation of female leaders. Whether you’re a mother, older sister, or mentor, use these tips to model leadership and teach girls to speak up and step outside their comfort zone.

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How to Be a Role Model for Girls

  1. 1. #LeanInTogether | LeanIn.Org/Together #LeanInTogether HOW TO BE A ROLE MODEL FOR GIRLS Get the complete tips at leanin.org/tips/role-model Getty Images
  2. 2. #LeanInTogether | LeanIn.Org/Together Together we can encourage the next generation of female leaders. Girls often look to the women in their lives for cues about how to think and act. When we speak confidently, take risks, and own our accomplishments, we set positive examples for girls to follow. There are countless opportunities every day to help girls gain the confidence and skills they need to lean in and take the lead. Special thanks to Rachel Simmons and the team at Girls Leadership for their expert insights on empowering girls. TIPS FOR WOMEN: HOW TO BE A ROLE MODEL FOR GIRLS
  3. 3. #LeanInTogether | LeanIn.Org/Together#LeanInTogether | LeanIn.Org/Together Boys often get more airtime in class than girls—they are more likely to call out answers and less likely to be interrupted.1
  4. 4. #LeanInTogether | LeanIn.Org/Together 1SITUATION Girls can undermine themselves when they speak. Many girls use phrases like “kind of” and “sort of” to weaken their statements. Some introduce opinions with disclaimers or use upspeak so their statements sound like questions. These verbal crutches hinder a girl’s ability to share her ideas clearly and confidently—a habit that often carries over into adulthood. Speak with confidence so girls hear what it sounds like. Avoid hedging your opinions with disclaimers or apologies. If you observe a girl falling into these same habits, explain how it undermines the point she’s trying to make. Remind her it’s not just what you say that matters, it’s how you say it, too. SOLUTION 1 COACH GIRLS TO SPEAK CONFIDENTLY
  5. 5. #LeanInTogether | LeanIn.Org/Together#LeanInTogether | LeanIn.Org/Together Girls are often taught to suppress their feelings in order to get along with others.2
  6. 6. #LeanInTogether | LeanIn.Org/Together 2 TEACH TO GIRLS TO NAVIGATE CONFLICT SITUATION Girls are often taught to suppress their feelings in order to get along with others. 3 As a result, they do not learn to speak openly and manage conflict. Fast-forward to adulthood: too often women avoid giving each other honest input to avoid being seen as unkind or fall into the trap of personalizing constructive input we receive. Model honest, direct communication for the girls in your life. Encourage girls to speak their mind and avoid social shortcuts like texting and social media. Explain that conflict is an inevitable part of relationships—it’s the way we handle it that matters. SOLUTION
  7. 7. #LeanInTogether | LeanIn.Org/Together#LeanInTogether | LeanIn.Org/Together Between elementary school and high school, girls’ self- esteem drops 3.5 times more than boys’.4
  8. 8. #LeanInTogether | LeanIn.Org/Together SITUATION SOLUTION 3 ENCOURAGE GIRLS TO OWN THEIR SUCCESS Girls are often underestimated by others—and underestimate themselves—which erodes their confidence. When girls are complimented on their achievements, they also tend to deflect praise or minimize their accomplishments, 5 yet internalizing success is an important part of building self-confidence. Model owning your accomplishments for the girls in your life. When girls see that it is okay to own their success, they will feel more comfortable doing it themselves. Moreover, look for opportunities to celebrate girls’ success and acknowledge their strengths, and push back if they fall into the trap of sidestepping praise.
  9. 9. #LeanInTogether | LeanIn.Org/Together#LeanInTogether | LeanIn.Org/Together Women often wait to apply for a job until they meet 100 percent of hiring criteria, while men apply when they meet just 60 percent.6
  10. 10. #LeanInTogether | LeanIn.Org/Together SOLUTION 4 INSPIRE GIRLS TO GO FOR IT SITUATION Because girls often struggle with confidence and fear making mistakes, they are less likely to take risks. Some girls don’t speak up in class unless they’re 100 percent sure they have the right answer, while others shy away from trying new subjects or activities. This same reluctance also holds women back. Compared to our male counterparts, we can be less likely to take on high-profile projects or lobby for more senior positions. Model taking healthy risks and talk about the times you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone. When you hear girls say they’re “not ready” or “can’t do it,” gently push back. Make sure girls know that being brave is rarely about dramatic moments: it’s a skill acquired, little by little, over time.
  11. 11. #LeanInTogether | LeanIn.Org/Together#LeanInTogether | LeanIn.Org/Together When girls participate in extracurricular activities, they gain leadership skills that stay with them for life.7
  12. 12. #LeanInTogether | LeanIn.Org/Together SOLUTION 5 CELEBRATE FEMALE LEADERSHIP We expect girls to be kind and communal, so when they speak their mind or take the lead, they often face pushback. As a result, girls often worry they’ll make people mad or be laughed at if they assume a leadership position. 8 It’s no wonder that by middle school, girls are less interested in leading than boys—a trend that continues into adulthood. 9 If you hear a girl being criticized for asserting herself or referred to as “bossy” or “aggressive,” step in and explain she should be applauded, not chided, for her leadership skills. Finally, make sure girls understand the benefits of being a leader, like having a voice and making things happen. SITUATION
  13. 13. #LeanInTogether | LeanIn.Org/Together Women accomplish amazing things when we encourage and support each other. Celebrate the women who #LeanInTogether with you. Learn more at leanin.org/together LET’S #LEANINTOGETHER
  14. 14. #LeanInTogether | LeanIn.Org/Together ENDNOTES 1 Myra Sadker and David M. Sadker, Failing atFairness: How America’s SchoolsCheatGirls(NewYork: Scribner, 1994); AAUW, How SchoolsShortchangeGirls(1992). 2 Girls, Inc., TheSupergirl Dilemma: GirlsGrapplewith theMounting Pressureof Expectations (2006). http://www.girlsinc-monroe.org/styles/girlsinc/defiles/TheSupergirl Dilemma--SummaryFindings--lowres.pdf. 3 Ibid. 4 AAUW, Shortchanging Girls, Shortchanging America (1991). 5 GirlsInc., TheSupergirl Dilemma 6 Georges Desvaux, SandrineDevillard-Hoellinger, and MaryC. Meaney, “A BusinessCasefor Women,” TheMcKinsey Quarterly, September 2008, http://www.womenscolleges.org/files/pdfs/BusinessCaseforWomen.pdf 7 Girl ScoutResearch Institute, ChangeIt Up: WhatGirlsSay AboutRedefining Leadership (2008). http://www.girlscouts.org/content/dam/girlscouts-gsusa/forms-and-documents/about-girl- scouts/research/change_it_up_executive_summary_english.pdf 8 Ibid. 9 Deborah Marlino and Fiona Wilson, Teen Girlson Business: AreThey Being Empowered?, TheCommitteeof 200, SimmonsCollegeSchool of Management(April 2003), http://www.simmons.edu/som/docs/centers/TGOB_report_full.pdf; JenniferL. Lawlessand Richard L. Fox, Men Rule: TheContinued Under-Representationof Women in U.S. Politics, Women & PoliticsInstitute, American University School of Public Affairs(January2012), http://www.american.edu/spa/wpi/upload/2012-Men-Rule- Report-final-web.pdf; LeanIn.Org and McKinsey& Company, Women in theWorkplace(2015). http://womenintheworkplace.com.